October Fright Nights: A Night Flight favorite, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”

By on October 31, 2017

Every Tuesday night in October, Night Flight and Stone Brewing have been teaming up to present “Dr. FrankenStone’s Fright Nights”!

We’ve been sharing free live streams of classic cult horror flicks on our Facebook page — and TONIGHT we conclude with the 1968 horror cult classic, Night of the Living Dead, a Midnight Movie hit noted for its potent combination of horror, social commentary and satire.

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The movie — directed by the legendary George Romero, who died earlier this year, on July 16, 2017, following a battle with lung cancer — begins streaming LIVE on our Facebook page at 8pm PST / 11pm EST.

We’ve also recently added Night of the Living Dead to our collection of Horror titles over on Night Flight Plus, so you can watch the movie anytime you want, on streaming apps, on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV (we also suggest using Chromecast).

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Night of the Living Dead aired frequently in the wee hours of the morning and late nights on the USA Network, and we aired the film on “Night Flight” occasionally, as you can see in this Youtube clip we found, we features Pat Prescott’s introduction to the movie.

Night of the Living Dead was also Romero’s directorial debut, from a screenplay written by Romero and co-writer John Russo (we told you about Russo in this previous Night Flight blog post).

Night of the Living Dead — shot on a shoestring budget in black & white 16mm and 35mm — begins with the story of a brother and sister, Johnny (Russell Streiner) and Barbara (Judith O’Dea) arriving at a remote cemetery in order to visit their mother’s grave.

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Barbara then sees a strange man approaching, and is shocked when the man attacks and kills her brother.

She flees to an old farmhouse nearby that appears to be abandoned, but soon more people begin to show up, seven in all, including Ben (Duane Jones), who takes charge.

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They board up the windows while trying to escape the clutches of flesh-eating zombies (although they were called “ghouls” in the film).

The survivors become terrified by the increasing number of zombies outside and learn from the TV news that this plague of walking dead is a worldwide epidemic, and not just a local occurrence.

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Duane Jones is the black actor who played the wise and calm “Ben,” and remember, when Night of the Living Dead arrived in theaters movie audiences were more than ever before becoming aware of how movies, even horror movies, could reflect racial tensions in society.

It turns out, however, that Jones was the best actor that Romero and Russo could find who would agree to essentially work for free for twenty days in exchange for back-end points on the film.

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Although Night of the Living Dead went on to become an immediate cult classic and a Midnight Movie favorite — and a Night Flight fave too! — not everyone loved the movie right off the bat.

Roger Ebert famously slammed the film’s violence — including death by garden trowel — in an editorial he wrote for Reader’s Digest.

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Vincent Canby, writing about Night of the Living Dead for the New York Times in December of 1968, initially dismissed the film, which he described simply as “made by some people in Pittsburgh,” in a short review that didn’t mince any words:

“Night of the Living Dead is a grainy little movie acted by what appear to be nonprofessional actors, who are besieged in a farm house by some other nonprofessional actors who stagger around, stiff-legged, pretending to be flesh-eating ghouls.

The dialogue and background music sound hollow, as if they had been recorded in an empty swimming pool, and the wobbly camera seems to have a fetishist’s interest in hands, clutched, wrung, scratched, severed, and finally — in the ultimate assumption — eaten like pizza.”

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Be sure to check out our previous post about the film, which features much more about George Romero’s career.

The post features a rarely-seen exclusive 25-minute interview excerpt that Night Flight writer/producer Stuart Samuels conducted for his 2005 documentary film Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (it was previously available only as a bonus track on the European DVD release of Midnight Movies).

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Night of the Living Dead starts at 8pm PST / 11pm EST LIVE on our Facebook page and will be available to watch free for 24 hours on Night Flight Plus streaming apps -– Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV –- as well as Night Flight Plus.

Invite some friends, grab a Stone mixed 12-pack, tune in to the movie, and brace yourself for a creepy vintage Halloween flick!

Be sure to check out the Facebook page page (and subscribe for lots of great Night Flight photos and links to our blog stories) TONIGHT, October 31st, Halloween!, for the fourth and final film of our  free streaming October Fright Night movies!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.